Bill could prevent harmful behavior

Too often, people who suffer mental illness do not receive the help they need, even when it is apparent they are threats to themselves and/or others. A new study of the school massacre in Newtown, Conn., last December concludes that many people, including his mother, knew killer Adam Lanza was dangerously unbalanced – but no one seemed to know what to do about it.

Part of the problem is that judges called upon to deal with individuals with mental illness often are reluctant to order they be committed involuntarily to treatment facilities. That is understandable from a civil liberties standpoint and because of the cost of mental hospital care.

A bill approved last week by the Ohio House of Representatives could help.

Approved by a vote of 87 lawmakers in favor to just six against, the measure would allow judges to order outpatient treatment for someone who appear before them who suffers a mental illness. Now, the only option is to send such defendants to mental hospitals.

If approved, the change will ensure some mentally ill Ohioans get treatment, whether they want it or not, that may prevent them from harming themselves or others.

State senators should approve the bill and Gov. John Kasich should sign it into law – for the good of both those who are mentally unbalanced and Ohioans whose safety may be jeopardized by them.